May 20, 2009 By Casey Mayville
Photo: Shell Culp, CIO for the Department of Toxic Substances Control
At the Conference on California's Future, CIO for the Department of Toxic Substances Control, Shell Culp, discussed the importance of telework in the way government agencies operate. Ready or not, telework is on California's horizon, she said. But what does that mean for employees, managers and the state as a whole?
The benefits of telework are easily identified:
But what are the trade-offs and potential challenges teleworking would present?
Some strategies on how to successfully employ telework are:
The question of who provides the necessary equipment for teleworkers also needs to be answered, said Culp. Do employees use their own laptop computes or does the agency provide it? Does the agency pay for broadband at the teleworker's home or not? Although both practices are acceptable, more agencies are providing teleworkers with equipment because it helps mitigate the security risks.
When successfully carried out, telework has the ability to drastically reduce operating costs. However, many organizations do not have the planning or processes in place to manage teleworkers. According to Culp, it is necessary for organizations and agencies to have very specific policies and guidelines for teleworkers. And while telework is ideal for many positions, it is important to know that there are some positions or people for which telework will never be an option. But because of the potential reduction of costs and environmental impact, departments should consider telework, when feasible, an alternative to a more traditional work environment.
All over the country, community leaders are looking to boost economic development through various initiatives. One key element in many of those initiatives is the use of information technology. When local governments build IT infrastructure, create e-government applications, assist high-tech startups or otherwise focus on technology, they create conditions that draw businesses to their communities and help retain skilled workers. This paper discusses and provides examples of these various ways local government can use technology to ultimately make a community more attractive to businesses, visitors and residents.